A large section of Beirut’s giant port grain silos, which were shredded by a massive explosion two years ago, have collapsed as hundreds marched in the city to mark the second anniversary of the blast that killed nearly 220 people.
The northern block of the silos consisting of four towers had been slowly tilting for days and collapsed, causing a huge cloud of dust that covered the structure that shielded Beirut’s western neighbourhoods when the blast occurred on August 4 2020.
The explosion also injured more than 6,000 people and caused damage worth billions of dollars.
Thursday’s collapse of roughly a quarter of the structure occurred an hour before hundreds of people were to gather outside the facility to mark the second anniversary of the blast.
Authorities evacuated parts of the port earlier this week — after an initial section of the silos collapsed on Sunday — as a precautionary measure and there was no indication that anyone was hurt.
The 50-year-old, 157ft tall silos had withstood the force of the explosion two years ago that destroyed much of the port.
Many in Lebanon, including families of the victims, have been demanding that the silos be kept for future generations to witness the result of one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, caused by widespread corruption and mismanagement in the small Mediterranean nation.
The domestic investigation into the blast has been stalled since December following legal challenges by charged and accused officials against the judge leading the investigation.
Hundreds of people, including families of the victims, marched from three locations in Beirut towards the main road outside the port to mark the blast on Thursday. Some carried white coffins while others carried gallows demanding punishment for those responsible.
“Two years later the pain is still the same,” said one of the family members whose brother was killed.